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Ushuaia Update 5

Wednesday - Monday 26th - 31st January 2011

Well, considering that over Wed - Fri there have been several 'get-togethers' on boats, I'm amused to think that I was concerned when several friendly French boats left!! We all had drinks & 'nibbles' on a charter boat on Wed night ('Pelagic Australis' - Skip Novak's old boat), a 'dock party' given by a French boat (the relatively small 'L'Esprit d'Equipe', which was the outermost on a raft-up of boats) on Thursday (with invitation to dinner by crew of Australian charter boat 'Spirit of Sydney' afterwards) and another general 'get-together' on the British boat 'Uhuru' astern of me on Friday, - almost got to be too much, since I ended up feeling guilty for not getting on with more work (or emails) of an evening!!

There are quite a few large charter boats (taking clients to Antarctica regularly from here). Several are tied up to the dock just now, often with helpful, mainly English-speaking, some French, crew... all doing maintenance/cleaning/provisioning in between trips.

I've even been here long enough to greet one or two smaller boats returning from Antarctica. I'd not realized before arriving here that a permit was needed for a boat to visit Antarctic waters. Under an International agreement, I would need one issued by the UK authorities since 'Nereida' is British-flagged. They have been known to take several months to acquire, but that time has been reduced drastically of late, to help smaller boats wanting to visit Antarctica to get the permit. It's basically an attempt to protect the delicate environment and inform boats of what changes they need to make on board to do just that. Nothing whatsoever is to be discharged or thrown overboard - all to be bagged or held in tanks, with bags taken to a suitable port well away from Antarctic waters and tanks discharged only when well away from the area or emptied when suitably connected in port. Also guidance is given on which places may be visited and how to behave so as to leave the wildlife as little disturbed as possible - especially since it's breeding season over the Southern summer. Weather can also be a big problem, with sudden strong winds to add in to the problems of ice. The shortest time taken from here (on a large cruise ship) seems to be ten days.

My camera had been playing up for a time since my knockdown - and finally died on me early last week. Fortunately, not too late for a replacement to be brought in for me by Barry, who's also bringing my replacement drogue - so photos will be resumed when the new camera arrives - on Wed or Thursday this week! (In the meantime, I'm posting a photo of my arrival at the dock here in AFASyN Marina, Ushuaia, on Saturday 8th Jan, taken by Alain on 'Uhambo'.)

Friday started well, with blue sky in the morning and lovely sunshine for most of day (I got a pile of hand-washing done!) ... until arrival of strong wind in the evening ... another Low passing by!! The good news that afternoon was that the paperwork for my replacement parts was finally cleared so the parcels could start on their journey from Sweden (only two weeks later than intended..) - although not expected to be on a flight until today (Monday). With the 'normal' delays in transit or Customs, I don't expect to see them for another two weeks.... this is S. America... so nothing is simple and straightforward - especially with bringing items in to Ushuaia.... "the end of the world".... Then I have to fix it all, of course... with only other boaters for help with that - no other local expertise, apart from metalwork ... The few marina workers are not sailors ... and there's not even a chandlery in town. If I get away by end of Feb, I'll be very lucky!

The weekend was particularly productive for me - I worked hard clearing and cleaning - mainly in the forepeak (making a comprehensive list as I sorted out the lockers) but partly also in the main cabin. I've felt much happier as a result, although I still have several lockers to deal with - cleaning and drying out. Today, I spent some time sorting through my fresh food stores - I still have potatoes, onions, eggs, apples and cabbage from Canada and the USA!

Skype is causing me a problem - I've had to uninstall and re-install it four times so far! I keep finding an unresponsive 'hidden' icon in the taskbar - won't respond to clicking on it to let me load up Skype - but when I try to open up Skype from Start menu and sign in, I get message,: 'Can't sign you in because you're already signed in"... grrr!! Such a waste of time..... but I need Skype to talk to people to discuss my various problems and how to resolve them....

I also spent a time over the weekend evenings catching up with email replies - I'm pretty well up-to-date for the moment - phew!! (Oh well, I happened to go back to the New Year - lots of them, hopefully most in reply to my greetings sent earlier... Please know they were all happily received - and accept my thanks with this note ...)

I'm often asked about where I'll be moving on to from here - lots of options, but none looking ideal, since weather, as usual, will become a problem quite soon... Heading W around Horn or NNW through Chilean Channels are not sensible options for me, to my mind, so that leaves continuing East (my preferred option) or heading North (a possible weather-induced option)... in each case with a variety of possible passages and its own set of weather problems...

Written by : Mike

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